The Heartbreaking Case For Google Photos

smartphones memory

I take pictures of exceedingly dumb things — my cat sniffing a bunch of kale, my drunk friend taking money out of an ATM — and I sometimes think it’s because, nine years ago, my dad’s memory was shattered by a brain tumor that ultimately took his life.

(It might also be because my cat looks really cute sniffing kale. But I think there’s something to the cancer idea.)

My dad had a glioblastoma multiforme — “the terminator” — which annihilated his memory. Mostly it was the short-term stuff: There were dinners that felt like they stretched for hours when he would ask “How was your day?” over and over and over and over and over again. We could have the same conversation 10 times in 30 minutes. Sometimes, I would change my answers to break the tedium.

Some long-term stuff went, too. A year or so before he got sick, we went on a trip to Japan — he forgot this. There were photos, though — a whole album of them, actually. We’d go through them sometimes to remind him.

Having a father with a brain tumor taught me a few things. There is tremendous responsibility in being a teen with a parent who legitimately can’t remember if he gave you an allowance; “Law and Order” reruns are great, no matter your mental faculties; and if you think you can always put the camera down and just “savor the memory” later, you are sorely mistaken.

The experience made me paranoid about my own memory. I realized, when I was just a teenager, that the good ol’ times aren’t necessarily sticking around. Sorry! I know your brain is great now — it retrieves the information you want when you want it, it doesn’t —> Read More